Chinese Whiskers

I was amused to hear that a curious cat-related furore hit the Chinese banking system this week.
The People’s Bank of China has denied allegations that its 100-yuan note contains mysterious cat images, saying the ‘cloud pattern was copied from ancient lacquer ware’.
But cat conspiracy theorists say there are three cats printed near the head of Mao Tse Tung – one with an open mouth and staring eyes, the other two on their knees, bowing.
The central bank issued the folowing statement – ‘Someone imagined the patterns as three cats and drew the profile with a marker to mislead the public.’
What do you think? Bolly and I are convinced they are cats. And the middle one does bear a passing resemblance to the Boll herself.


Well, no sooner had I blogged about the £10.66 episode in Waitrose than I found myself in Tesco, having to pay £19.99 precisely. (See evidence below. Yes – I do buy lots of batteries and cat treats. I work in the media and I have a cat.)

‘That’ll be £19.99,’ said the yoof.

And I almost did it. Almost quipped, ‘Let’s party like it’s … as Prince said.’

But thankfully I stopped myself in the nick of time, realising that Prince’s 1999 single was released in 1982, well before the yoof was born. And young people know nothing whatsoever about what happened before they were ten.

I escaped without being sectioned. Two close scrapes in one week.

At this rate, I’ll have to pay £18.12 in M&S tomorrow and have to force myself not to mention Tchaikovsky.

£10.66 And All That

That’s it. I’m never making smalltalk with a shop assistant again.

I was in a supermarket today, and the cashier gave me my change from a £20 note, saying – ‘There you go – £10.66.’

‘Ah. The Norman Conquest’, I replied.

He gave me an odd look, as if he couldn’t decide whether to call security or the police or Hertfordshire mental health services. For a split second, I considered explaining myself. But I thought better of it and headed for the door, feeling embarrassed at knowing something which everyone used to know.

The Scroobious Pip

As you probably know, I’m rather partial to Dans le Sac and Scroobius Pip. If you’re not familiar with their oeuvre, check out Thou Shalt Always Kill and Letter from God
Mr Pip, who hails from Stanford-le-Hope in Essex (where Joseph Conrad once lived) refuses to reveal his real name and insists on Scroobius. So I decided to research its origins, and discovered it’s a deliberate misspelling of ‘Scroobious‘.
The original Scroobious Pip was an Edward Lear creature who had no idea who or what he was.
Lear’s handwritten manuscript for Scroobious Pip was found unfinished after his death in 1888 and published as a fragment in 1953.
But then, in 1968, it was completed by Ogden Nash no less. Here it is –
The Scroobious Pip
The Scroobious Pip went out one day
When the grass was green, and the sky was grey.
Then all the beasts in the world came round
When the Scroobious Pip sat down on the ground.
The cat and the dog and the kangaroo
The sheep and the cow and the guinea pig too.
The wolf he howled, the horse he neighed
The little pig squeaked and the donkey brayed,
And when the lion began to roar
There never was heard such a noise before.
And every beast he stood on the tip
Of his toes to look at the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the Fox, ‘By far,
You’re the wisest beast! You know you are!
Go close to Scroobious Pip and say:
Tell us all about yourself we pray,
For as yet we can’t make out in the least
If you’re fish or insect, or bird or beast.’
The Scroobious Pip looked vaguely round
And sang these words with a rumbling sound:
‘Chippetty Flip, Flippetty Chip.
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.’
The Scroobious Pip from the top of a tree
Saw the distant Jellybolee,
And all the birds in the world came there,
Flying in crowds all through the air.
The vulture and eagle, the cock and the hen
The ostrich, the turkey, the snipe and the wren.
The parrot chattered, the blackbird sang
And the owl looked wise but held his tongue,
And when the peacock began to scream
The hullabaloo was quite extreme.

And every bird he fluttered the tip
Of his wing as he stared at the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the owl, ‘By far,
You’re the wisest Bird. You know you are!
Fly close to the Scroobious Pip and say:
Explain all about yourself we pray,
For as yet we have neither seen nor heard
If you’re fish or insect, beast or bird!’
The Scroobious Pip looked gaily round
And sang these words with a chirpy sound:
‘Chippetty Flip, Flippetty Chip.
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.’
The Scroobious Pip went into the sea
By the beautiful shore of Jellybolee.
All the fish in the world swam round
With a splashing squashy spluttering sound.
The sprat, the herring, the turbot too,
The shark, the sole and the mackerel blue.
The flounder spluttered, the porpoise puffed
And then the whale began to spout,
And every fish he shook the tip
Of his tail as he gazed on the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the whale, ‘By far
You’re the biggest fish – you know you are!
Swim close to the Scroobious Pip and say:
Tell us all about yourself we pray!
For to know you yourself is our only wish.
Are you beast or insect, bird or fish?’
The Scroobious Pip looked softly round
And sung these words with a liquid sound:
‘Pliffity Flip, Pliffety Flip,
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.’
The Scroobious Pip sat under a tree
By the silent shores of the Jellybolee.
All the insects in all the world
About the Scroobious Pip entwirled.
Beetles and bugs with purple eyes,
Gnats and buzztilential flies,
Grasshoppers, butterflies, spiders too,
Wasps and bees and dragon-flies blue,
And, when the gnats began to hum,
bounced like a dismal drum,
And every insect curled the tip
Of his snout, and looked at the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the Ant, ‘By far
You’re the wisest insect, you know you are!
Creep close to the Scroobious Pip and say:
Tell us all about yourself we pray,
For we can’t find out, and we can’t tell why,
If you’re beast or fish or a bird or a fly.’
The Scroobious Pip turned quickly round
And sang these words with a whistley sound:
‘Wizzeby Wip, Wizzeby Wip.
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.’
Then all the beasts that walk on the ground
Danced in a circle round and round,
And all the birds that fly in the air
Flew round and round in a circle there,
And all the fish in the Jellybolee
Swam in a circle about the sea,
And all the insects that creep or go
Buzzed in a circle to and fro.
And they roared and sang and whistled and cried
Till the noise was heard from side to side:
Chippetty Tip! Chippetty Tip!
Its only name is the Scroobious Pip.

Draw A Stickman

drawastickman is fab. Try it now. All you do is draw a stickman (or stickdog, stickcat, stickinsect, whatever) and he comes alive and embarks on a peculiar adventure, with help from you and your drawing skills.

Squeezing Past

Have you noticed, as I have, that the expression ‘excuse me’ has now been replaced with ‘Can I just squeeze past’?

There’s A Moussa in the Hoossa

Like most people, I have an earworm most days. Normally it’s a tune. Usually a tune I can’t stand. But today it’s a name –
Moussa Koussa
I can’t shake Moussa off. I’ve tried other names, such as Evonne Goolagong, Moon Unit Zappa and Megawati Sukarnoputri, but they’re not doing the trick.
Any suggestions gratefully received. I just need a name that will get Moussa out of my head. Thank you.

Mum’s Music Box

Mum was a bit slow in answering the phone the other day.
‘I’m sorry dear,’ she said. ‘I was just bringing the music box.’
She then proceeded to wind it up and play a tune. I was a bit bemused to say the least.
‘Why’ve you started bringing the music box to the phone?’
‘Well,’ came the reply. ‘We’ve had lots of cold callers recently. So I just answer the phone and say “Putting you on hold”. Then I play the music box till they hang up.’